Guy Ritchie has made a name for himself, often referred to as the British Tarantino, with a slew of distinctly British crime thrillers such as: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and RocknRolla. While it’s been two decades since Snatch, the prolific director has turned to franchises such as Sherlock Holmes in the meantime, even trying his hand at a remake of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. He was inspired to make films his life after watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as a child. Dropping out of school at 15 and skipping the film school route, he started his film career as a runner, quickly progressing to music videos and commercials.
While Ritchie has followed the money over the last few years culminating in Aladdin, he’s gone back to the bag of money films he’s famous for with The Gentlemen. RocknRolla was the last typical Ritchie caper he made in 2008 and with Snatch in the rearview mirror, it was time to reveal he’s still got it! The tough guy Vinnie Jones and Ray Winstone thing is out of fashion, so how do you make a crime thriller about toxic guys these days? Make sure they’re in fashion. Being The Gentlemen, the wardrobe gives this film a modern pageantry that may serve as an inspiration.
Ritchie’s gone for a stellar cast of pretty boys including Hugh Grant, Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Colin Farrell and next generation talents Henry Golding and Michelle Dockery. They look perfectly at home in their pristine suits and moody jackets, proving they’re not just there for their looks. Hugh Grant is the pick of the actors, a blend of Ray Winstone and David Brent from The Office. He’s been on a winning streak over the last few years and as resident scene-stealer drops his typically posh act for something much slimier. McConaughey also arrives, demonstrating his ability to play heroes and villains with the same panache.
“I think we’re in over our ‘eds.”
It’s fun to see the other cast members chiming in with their oddball characters. Colin Farrell may be a bit too Ali G to be taken seriously and Henry Golding keeps making inside jokes about being a possible Bond, but the actors have fun and it translates to screen. They’re helped by Ritchie’s organic screenplay that was often rewritten on the day of shooting, keeping the actors on their toes. The filmmaker has a knack for writing dialogue that’s witty in its own earthy schlock, almost melodic and punctuated by expletives.
Populated by a usual suspects line-up with dangerous agendas, this is a violent yet comical crime caper. A “very Guy Ritchie film”, he tips the hat to many of his previous films such as Sherlock Holmes with a similar round-up montage, featuring an actual poster for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. It’s got a playful verve, creating entertaining scenes that let the actors make a real go of it. Style is most important in The Gentlemen, keeping you loosely involved in the story as the outrageous characters flirt with danger until something’s gotta give. The film may not be substantial enough to be contemplative beyond the credits but adds up to a lively yet forgettable jaunt.
Perhaps that’s part of the beauty of Ritchie’s gangster flicks. They’re so geared around pure popcorn entertainment to the point that you can watch them over and over again. Oh, what’s it about? Things take a turn for the worse when an American expat tries to sell his lucrative multi-satellite marijuana empire in London. Overall, The Gentlemen is an unabashedly rowdy film, essentially a stoner comedy crime caper that’s plenty of fun brandishing a kind of mindless entertainment with bolshy performances.
The bottom line: Fun